Residing at a Lanna colonial style boutique resort
After a three-day well deserved authentic retreat in Chiang Mai's indigenous tribal village as shared in our previous post, We delayed no further as we descended from the mountains in a local Songthaew, riding through the long winding road heading towards the Old City of Chiang Mai to discover more.
As we entered the village, we strolled through a photo gallery walkway. Each and every photo exhibit mounted on the white walls depicts profoundly the enduring traditions and culture of the Lanna folks that once dominate the northern region. As we walked further in, we will see that the interior architecture of Tamarind village had been built and constructed to reflect Lanna colonial style. White walls forming the bedrock of the village building, supported by teak wood pillars and lush greenery all over the vicinity. The interior of the rooms reflect adequately the rich ethnic diversity of Thailand with inspirations drawn from a variety of tribal regions as seen in the fabrics, furnishings and decorations used in the boutique hotel rooms.
The boutique hotel took its name from the magnificent 200-year-old Tamarind Tree standing just right in the middle of the courtyard. In Lanna folklore, Animism was highly predominant before exposure to other religions such as Christianity and Buddhism. A centuries- old tree like this one is a symbol of prosperity and good luck according to the people of Lanna. Under this tree, will also be the place where our children will be spending countless hours engaging in cultural activities ranging from umbrella painting, lotus leaves folding and garland weaving hosted by the warm and children friendly staffs of Tamarind Village.
When our local driver first pulled over at Tamarind Village Hotel, we were instantly greeted with tranquillity in a beautiful boutique village setting. Long rows of bamboo trees with luscious green hues dominate both sides of the walkway, each swaying gently in its own rhythm in the gentle afternoon breeze. The rows of bamboo trees will eventually converge at some point leading us to the grand entrance of the Tamarind Village.
The history of Chiang Mai can be traced back as far as 700 years ago and is one of Thailand's most historical city. The Kingdom of Lanna used to cover most part of northern Thailand and was a thriving state way before the rise of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai which would eventually consolidate to form part of today's Thailand. Hence the old city has got a lot more character and is definitely worth visiting. Chiang Mai, renowned for its tantalising northern Thailand cuisine and prevalent coffee culture spanning across the entire city is definitely another compelling draw
Exploring the vicinity
The best way to explore Chiang Mai Old City is to stroll wondrously and discover the city at your own pace. When we got tired from all the walking, we simply hopped onto a local tuk-tuk with our children. The tuk-tuk rides were by far one of the best highlights for them.
The team at Tamarind village organises regular morning curated tours of the city covering key city landmarks, cultural museums, local stalls and the many glittering Wats (Thai temples) that dotted the city. Personally, I feel that the best time to visit Thai temples is nearing sunset. The temperature gets cooler and when the lights are lit up, everything else transforms and glimmers in togetherness with the golden plated stupas. The Buddhist chants echoing through the hallway of the temple at this time of the day makes the whole experience all the more enchanting and mesmerising.
Doi Suthep/ Doi Inthanon
In contrary to what most people feel, I am relatively lukewarm about Doi Suthep. The sacred site is a 45mins drive from Tamarind village and was an obvious choice to explore due to its proximity. We did what most tourists did. Ascended the 300 over stone steps graced by carved water serpents on both sides of the stairways. We witnessed the magnificent golden temples at the summit but like every other day, it was cloudy and the view did not look spectacular as what I had expected. We also missed a great trekking opportunity down the mountain as we were not aware of its existence. There were no road signs or any other indications around that point us to the trekking site. I would like to think that perhaps Doi Inthanon might be a more interesting site to explore the next trip.
Local Market, Fresh Produce at Talat Warorot
What I thoroughly enjoyed was the local market at Talat Warorot Head there early morning like a 8 am and be ready to witness the sheer abundance of exotic and tantalising local Thai food stalls. From poultries dangling from hooks, skinned and dripping with sizzling grease to live frogs to freshly harvested strawberries! We could not resist grabbing a kilogram of fresh strawberries before heading back home. The smaller ones tend to be a lot sweeter and juicer than the bigger ones. So bear that little tip in mind if you happen to be in Chiang Mai.
We are glad to have seen and experienced Chiang Mai in our own unusual way with our 2 young children. The pace was comfortable and yet filled with unique local experience. It was important for us to expose our children to different culture and way of life to expand their horizons. It was an inspiring planned trip in which both adults and children had a great time.